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Sci-Fi Visions

The Most Far-Out Statements From Elon Musk’s Wide-Ranging Interview With Joe Rogan

We listened to the whole interview so you didn't have to.

Victor TangermannSeptember 7th 2018

“You probably can’t [smoke] because of stockholders, right?” Rogan asks.

“I mean it’s legal, right?” Musk replies.

Elon Musk spent yesterday evening in a rambling conversation with comedian and podcast host Joe Rogan, all while puff-puff-passing a blunt (Musk didn’t inhale) and sipping on glasses of whiskey (with far, far too much ice).

The two-and-a-half-hour exchange ranges pretty widely. They got into the vastness of the universe, Musk’s vintage car collection, electric planes, and whether we are really living in a simulation.

Oddly absent from Rogan’s interview with Elon Musk? The complete chaos his electric car company is in right now. Mere hours after Musk’s interview with Rogan went live, the LA Times reported that two of Tesla’s senior executives announced plans to quit the company.

But that didn’t come up. In fact, it only took 13 minutes for Rogan to steer the conversation from digging tunnels in LA to the dangers of artificial intelligence. Musk took the bait:

The thing that is going to be tricky here is that it’s going to be very tempting to use AI as a weapon. In fact, it will be used used as a weapon. The danger is going to be more humans using it against each other most likely, I think.

So, how far away are humans from creating something truly sentient? Rogan asked. Musk had some insightful words for him — that is, if you can actually figure out what the heck he’s talking about.

You could argue that any group of people — like a company — is essentially a cybernetic collective of human people and machines. That’s what a company is. And then there are different levels of complexity in the way these companies are formed and then there is a collective AI in Google search, where we are also plugged in like nodes in a network, like leaves in a tree.

You hear that? Like a tree. Trees, man. 

We’re all feeding this network without questions and answers. We’re all collectively programming the AI and Google. […] It feels like we are the biological boot-loader for AI effectively. We are building progressively greater intelligence. And the percentage that is not human is increasing, and eventually we will represent a very small percentage of intelligence.

But why would greater artificial intelligence matter if we’re all just living in one giant simulation?

The argument for the simulation I think is quite strong. Because if you assume any improvements at all over time — any improvement, one percent, .1 percent. Just extend the time frame, make it a thousand years, a million years — the universe is 13.8 billion years old. Civilization if you are very generous is maybe seven or eight thousand years old if you count it from the first writing. This is nothing. So if you assume any rate of improvement at all, then [virtual reality video] games will be indistinguishable from reality. Or civilization will end. Either one of those two things will occur. Or we are most likely living in a simulation.

If Elon hasn’t lost you there yet, get ready for multiple simulations. But there’s a silver lining: outside of our simulations, it’s probably boring as hell.

There are many many simulations. These simulations, we might as well call them reality, or you can call them multiverse. They are running on a substrate. That substrate is probably boring.

When we create a simulation like a game or movie, it’s a distillation of what’s interesting about life. It takes a year to shoot an action movie. And that is distilled down into two to three hours. But the filming is boring. It’s pretty goofy, doesn’t look cool. But when you add the CGI and upgrade editing, it’s amazing. So i think most likely, if we’re a simulation, it’s really boring outside the simulation. Because why would you make the simulation as boring? [You’d] make simulation way more interesting than base reality.

They did get into some topics that directly had to do with Musk’s various business ventures, including sustainable energy infrastructure, Tesla cars’ safety features, and Vertical Take Off and Landing (VTOL) vehicles.

That’s when Rogan retrieved the blunt, from a tacky box he got on vacation in Mexico. Wide-eyed Elon took a single timid drag. For the first time in a long while, he looked at peace.

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